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Changes in Americans’ prejudices during the presidency of Donald Trump


The presidency of Donald Trump represented a relatively unique event in modern American history, whereby a sitting US president made numerous controversial remarks about minoritized groups yet nonetheless maintained substantial public support. Trump’s comments constituted a departure from the egalitarian norms that had long characterized American political discourse. Here, we examine the potential effects of Trump’s rhetoric on Americans’ attitudes, predicting that these high-profile norm violations may have reshaped the personal prejudices of the American people. In 13 studies including over 10,000 participants, we tested how Americans’ prejudice changed following the political ascension of Donald Trump. We found that explicit racial and religious prejudice significantly increased amongst Trump’s supporters, whereas individuals opposed to Trump exhibited decreases in prejudice. Further, changing social norms appear to explain these changes in prejudice. These results suggest that Trump’s presidency coincided with a substantial change in the topography of prejudice in the United States.

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Fig. 1: Density plots illustrating changes in prejudice against Muslims amongst those who support versus oppose Donald Trump.
Fig. 2: Spaghetti plots illustrating heterogeneity in changes in prejudice between participants and between studies (studies 1–8).
Fig. 3: Forest plot of effect sizes for longitudinal study prejudice measures.
Fig. 4: Effects of experimental manipulation in studies 12 and 13 (combined data) as a function of support for Trump.

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Data availability

All data, materials and pre-registration documentation are available on the Open Science Framework at Source data are provided with this paper.

Code availability

All analysis code is available on the Open Science Framework at


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This research was supported by a NSF Graduate Research Fellowship (grant no. 1144153) and European Commission Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship (grant no. 897440) to B.C.R. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish or preparation of the manuscript.

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Authors and Affiliations



B.C.R. and M.J.F. conceived of the idea and planned the experiments. B.C.R. designed and programmed the experiments and analysed the data. B.C.R. and M.J.F. wrote the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Benjamin C. Ruisch.

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Nature Human Behaviour thanks Stacey Sinclair and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Supplementary materials, analyses, text, Figs. 1 and 2 and Tables 1–14.

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Supplementary Tables 1–14.

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Statistical source data for Supplementary Fig. 1.

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Source Data Fig. 4

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Ruisch, B.C., Ferguson, M.J. Changes in Americans’ prejudices during the presidency of Donald Trump. Nat Hum Behav 6, 656–665 (2022).

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